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Land-use and climate change risks in the Amazon and the need of a novel sustainable development paradigm

OPEN Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 18 Sep 2016

CA Nobre, G Sampaio, LS Borma, JC Castilla-Rubio, JS Silva and M Cardoso
Abstract
For half a century, the process of economic integration of the Amazon has been based on intensive use of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources, which has brought significant basin-wide environmental alterations. The rural development in the Amazonia pushed the agricultural frontier swiftly, resulting in widespread land-cover change, but agriculture in the Amazon has been of low productivity and unsustainable. The loss of biodiversity and continued deforestation will lead to high risks of irreversible change of its tropical forests. It has been established by modeling studies that the Amazon may have two “tipping points,” namely, temperature increase of 4 °C or deforestation exceeding 40% of the forest area. If transgressed, large-scale “savannization” of mostly southern and eastern Amazon may take place. The region has warmed about 1 °C over the last 60 y, and total deforestation is reaching 20% of the forested area. The recent significant reductions in deforestation-80% reduction in the Brazilian Amazon in the last decade-opens up opportunities for a novel sustainable development paradigm for the future of the Amazon. We argue for a new development paradigm-away from only attempting to reconcile maximizing conservation versus intensification of traditional agriculture and expansion of hydropower capacity-in which we research, develop, and scale a high-tech innovation approach that sees the Amazon as a global public good of biological assets that can enable the creation of innovative high-value products, services, and platforms through combining advanced digital, biological, and material technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in progress.
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Concepts
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, Deforestation, Global warming, Forest, Tropical rainforest, Biodiversity, Agriculture, Sustainability
MeSH headings
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